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How to make Nexus 7 believe she is in the United States

Posted on Monday August 27th, 2012 by


Special guest post on personal user experience by Yu from Japan
Nexus 7 is a brand new Android tablet from Google. Because it has Quad-core Tegra 3 processor inside, it’s very fast and able to run complicated applications such as new Google Earth with 3D real-time rendering of cities filled with many skyscrapers. And the new features in Jelly Bean, the latest Android OS accompanying the Nexus 7, bring the silky smoothness to the display. I can’t imagine how I can do without it anymore.

Because Nexus 7 is currently sold only to the limited countries such as U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and few others, it is very difficult for someone living in other countries like me to get one. As for the sales of Nexus 7, Google™ online shopping site Google Play is not only making it impossible to ship the tablet to the countries other than ones listed above, but also denies accesses from the users geographical location based on IP addresses. Purchase itself can only be done with a credit card or debit card issued to the countries listed above. Checkmate? No. I have a VPN connection which gives me a US IP address and mighty USUNLOCKED CARD which gives me a virtual debit card issued to US address. Thanks to them all, I was able to manage to buy Nexus 7 with very inexpensive way, that is, about $230 or so. Much cheaper than using some import agencies advertising Nexus 7 with $300 or more price tags.

Nexus 7 runs very fast and smooth as I said before. Probably the fact itself is enough reason for someone living outside the U.S. to buy one. However, there is another thing to consider: Google Play. Google Play provides smartphone and tablet users a good media experiences such as music, video, books, magazines and so on and people in the United States can enjoy them all. And because Nexus 7 is made for Google Play as Google itself stated, it is a bit sad situation if an owner of a Nexus 7 tablet cannot enjoy some or most of media experiences from Google Play. For example, I live in Japan and the only services I can enjoy here are just Google Play Apps and Google Play Movies. No Music, no Books, no Magazines, and no TV shows. Nevertheless, maybe I’m a lucky one that I can enjoy Movies anyhow because Japan is among one of the very few countries where Google started Play Movie service already. In many countries, gates to Google Play services are tightly closed except for the Google Play Apps. What a pity if usable services are restricted as such.

Here are the tips for reviving those services currently out of outsiders reach one by one. But before proceeding, you must realize that doing all or some of these tricks may disable warranty for your Nexus 7. Also doing all or some of these tricks may violate the terms of use for Google Play Services. Please consider carefully before you start it.

1. Rooting
Nexus 7 must be rooted. Rooting Nexus 7 is a relatively easy task because Google itself prepare the tablet to
be root-able like other Nexus devices. There are many instructions for Nexus 7 rooting around the Internet and
URL like http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1809195 is very helpful.

2. Enabling Google Play Services other than Google Play Apps.
This is also an easy task if you have VPN connection etc., which brings you the United States’ IP address. Just enable it. Then you must stop Google Play Store app once by selecting the app from Setting->Apps->ALL->Google Play Store. Then “Force stop” it. After that, restarting Play Store will bring you the U.S. version of Play Store showing Apps, Music, Magazines, Movies&TV, and Books.
If you have USUNLOCKED CARD already, perhaps this is the good timing to set the card’s information into your Google Wallet. Visit wallet.google.com and login to your account and add the card’s info in the Payment Method section. This operation enables you to buy any items sold in Google Play Store, from Android apps to mp3 albums to Nexus 7 itself. Anything can be bought with USUNLOCKED CARD there.

3. Reviving disabled apps
Nexus 7 comes with all applications necessary for enjoying Google Play services. However, some of them are disabled during the initial registration process based on the IP address you use. If it’s in U.S. IP address range, all of the Google Play *** apps are listed in the application drawer. In Japan, only Google Play Movie is available. And so on.
These disabled apps can be revived using command line tools such as adb, connecting Nexus 7 to your PC and executing adb shell command from PC, or terminal emulator app, just firing up the app. Then you are in the command line shell for your Nexus 7 so type the following commands.

$ su
# pm enable com.google.android.apps.books
# pm enable com.google.android.apps.magazines
# pm enable com.google.android.music
# pm enable com.google.android.videos
Then, all of the Google play *** apps can be located in the application drawer.

Watching movies.
From previous step, you can see and install Google Play Movies&TV app. However, you cannot watch any movies or TV shows yet because Google Play Movies service rejects your access saying “Not available in your country. Same thing happens if you again use VPN connection for this purpose. This is because Google Play Movies determines the watcher’s location not based on IP address but based on the country information stored in a certain database file in the tablet.
The file is /data/data/com.google.android.gsf/databases/gservices.db.
You must rewrite the value of a device_country record in main section to us. There are several ways to do so but easiest way is to install SQLite Editor app to the tablet and use it. Installing the app brings you a list of database stored in the device, so locate and select the Google Service Framework (or com.google.android.gsf)->gservices.db->main. Then find the device_country record from the listing and long press it. Now you can edit the record so change the value from your country code to us. That’s it.
After changing device_country value, you must stop Google Play Services and Google Play Movies&TV once just as step 2. Next time you invoke Google Play Movie&TV you can watch your favorite Movies or TV shows. Because Nexus 7 purchase brings you free access to the video “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”, you can ascertain by watching this video.

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